Saturday, March 23, 2024

Scrap: Remind me Why I'm Doing This Again?!

 Two articles ago, I mentioned my project Scrap. I have been itching to create a campaign set in a dreary Sci-Fi crapsack world where space colonists sent through wormholes in the 1980s have been cut off from Earth and met a series of disasters that have forced them to abandon all but a few of their colonies and break into six dystopian factions. PCs are young people who have never known Earth, and are now serving their faction by plundering old planetary outposts for food, water, air, and technology in hopes of holding on long enough to rebuild.

The major inspirations being Duskers, Lethal Company, We Fix Space Junk, Kakos Industries, and Dining in the Void

Square Pegs and Round Holes

As always, I am looking to create a tailored experience: You start with a game that is close to what you want, then hack the hell out of it until it is just right for the setting I am trying to create. It (usually) takes less time than you would expect, and my players really enjoy the games I run.

I was considering building the game in Oversix, of course, but Oversix is designed for games that are meant to be long, campaigns where characters build up skills over time. Not what I am looking for in this game. I want players to get a laugh over fast and brutal TPKs. That means my engine is not right for this game.

My game Drakken is designed for heroic swashbuckling... so no dice there either, sadly.

Death in Space would be a great game to build the setting in, it has rules for breaking down ships, salvaging junk, and the rules are exceptionally light, but it is also infused with a certain surreal aesthetic and sense of dark magic that isn't quite right for the cassette futurism gone wrong I am looking for. I am dying to run Death in Space, though: it is cool.

Mothership is also a good candidate, but it is built on having characters who are pretty skilled and competent, which isn't quite what I am looking for...

So I figured it was time to grab one of the simpler open engines I have sitting around and roll my own.

My Great Folly

I was still considering my options when, I saw that Chaosium was holding a challenge to make a game using Basic Role-Playing which they have turned into an ORC-License open engine, and I - like a dope - thought I could probably make the game in Basic Role-Playing and have a shot at producing the kind of beautiful books I have wished I could create for years.

So, ovet the last few weeks, I have put about 18 hours into creating a setting and then trying to express that in Basic Role-Playing, at first, I was pretty happy with my progress, I was carving out rules for speed, making special abilities, re-writing the skilll list and getting somehwhere.

Then it came time to work on the rules section... and I realized that the few games I have been exposed to that claimed to be powered by Basic Role-Playing were a million miles away from Basic-Role Playing. This rule system is massive, and making it small, then adding more for my specific salvage and repair mechaics is sheer lunacy. My impression of Basic Role-Playing was heavily distorted from the games I had seen using it, and so was my sense of how much work it would be to make a game out of the source material.

I don't dislike the engine. It was a challenge, but it is not one that a man in the middle of setting up a small company, trying to manage a move, and raising two children during ome crazy transitions at school can tackle all at once. Especially not in a three week time frame.

And you know what... as much as it claims to be a very malleable and Universal Engine, it is not right for a game that is designed for the kind of fast, extremely light and lethal play that I am looking for. It could be, but it requires a lot of work.

And, to be blunt, there are just too many damned rules in my way, and hacking them out takes time I don't want to spend. If I didn't want to use Mothership, why, by Loki's left nut did I think Basic Role-Playing would be a good choice?

The excitement of a challenge, if I am being honest. I love a good intellectual challenge, even when it is not good time for me.

So, I am scrappping Scrap as a Basic Role-Playing project, and I am going back to the drawing board on the mechanical end. I think Mark of the Odd might be my option here if I am to start from scratch. Or perhaps once the setting guide is written, I need to just make a few house rules and stick with Mothership or Death in Space. Time to think for awhile. I am in no hurry if I am not going to be racing for a deadline.

The setting document at least can be kept until I find the right game for it.

I do keep saying I want to try Death in Space... it is just the Void Mutations and some of the aesthetics that are holding me back. Hmm, maybe if I write a new mutation table more fitting with the scenario... hmm...

In any case, wise is the man who knows when he is banging his head against the wall... and wiser still is the man who stops and takes an aspirin.

Sometimes salvaging the good from a project and dumping the rest is the key.

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